By John J. Puccio
This addition of “The French Album” to his discography is a perfect example of his technique. It includes music by Faure, Debussy, Rameau, Chabrier, and Ravel, all of it done up in as gentle yet as passionate a style as one could want. Here’s a rundown of the disc’s contents:
Gabriel Faure (1845–1924)
Claude Debussy (1862–1918)
2. Les collines d’Anacapri
3. La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune
4. Clair de lune
5. Ce qu’a vu le vent d’Ouest
7. La Cathedrale engloutie
8. Feux d’artifice
9. Feuilles mortes
Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683–1764)
10. Les Tricotets
11. Menuets I & 2
Emmanuel Chabrier (1841–1894)
14. La Puerta del Vino
15. La soirée dans Grenade
Maurice Ravel (1875–1937)
16. Alborada del gracioso
17. Pavane pour une infante défunte
Among the things I’ve written about Osorio in the past apply here. So, to quote myself, he plays with beauty and charm, a delicate touch, and a genuine grace, with expressive, nuanced singing in his piano playing. He is a richly expressive piano virtuoso of international fame, and in my experience has never demonstrated anything but sensitive, immaculate, committed, passionate playing, a most-refined pianist whose best work comes in expressively lyrical passages. In “The French Album” he finds amply opportunity to demonstrate all of those talents, particularly in the “expressively lyrical” material, which comes in abundance from the French masters.
The Debussy items dominate the album. Osorio gives them a free expression. I read the other day someone expressing the opinion that Debussy ushered in the modern age of classical music, and you’ll get no argument from me. With Debussy’s brilliant tone colors, expressionistic and impressionistic in style, lush and subtle at the same time, he certainly created a new musical world. Osorio exploits this new world superbly, his tone colors nuanced and unmistakable, his touch as delicate as the occasion demands. This is playing one can feel, and it feels good.
As I said at the beginning, there are flashier pianists than Osorio, but there are none finer. In this album of French music, he is in his element. If I were forced to pick a favorite selection, it might be Chabrier’s Habanera, not just because it’s beautiful music, but because it is Spanish-influenced music in the French manner, wonderfully executed by Osorio, who combines the best of both worlds.
Producer James Ginsburg and Cedille’s ace engineer Bill Maylone recorded the music in the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago in January 2020. The sound is gorgeous: not too sharp or bright; not too dull or soft. It simply sounds like a real piano in a real hall setting, with just the right amount of ambient bloom, room acoustics, and lifelike detail to bring it to life.
To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below: